Q: Is there new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees?
A: Since the beginning of 2020, employers have had to make significant changes to their operations due to an increasing number of newly enacted legislation and requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter the final quarter of 2020, California employers must again quickly respond to new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees and imposes stringent requirements on California employers. This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed three COVID-19-related bills into law that affect employee rights: (1) SB 1159, (2) AB 659, and (3) AB 1867.
Senate Bill 1159: “Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19”
Effective immediately for California employers with 5 or more employees, Senate Bill 1159 creates a presumption of entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits for employees infected with COVID-19 if:
- The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after performing labor or services at the employee’s “place of employment” (excluding the employee’s residence) at the employer’s direction; and
- The employee tests positive during an “outbreak” at the specific place of employment (as determined by the employer’s claims administrator).